The Iredell County Board of Commissioners has approved a proposed rezoning request that clears the way for JMS Southeast to expand its manufacturing facility off Interstate 40 near Statesville.

During the board’s September 5 meeting, JMS Southeast president Mitch Johnson told commissioners that the expansion is necessary to accommodate client demand. The company manufactures temperature sensors used by NASA, NASCAR, pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers.

“This is our community,” Johnson said. “This is where we’re from. We want to stay here and grow here.”

The company, which has 80 employees, plans to purchase 1.26 acres along Beulah Road, which will enable it to add onto the existing facility.

County staff and the planning board recommended approval of the rezoning, which was at odds with the county’s 2030 Horizon Plan.

A couple that lives nearby raised concerns about possible stormwater run-off and noise and a possible negative impact on their property values.

Johnson said the expansion would enable JMS Southeast to hire more employees. If the company could not expand, it would have to consider adding a second shift, which would increase noise and traffic in the late afternoon and evening hours.

The rezoning request received unanimous approval.

Vice chair warns against more uncontrolled growth

During the commissioners’ comment period, Vice Chair Bert Connolly sounded the alarm against a continuation of the rampant residential growth that has occurred in the south end of the county and is now moving north.

The county’s population has surpassed 200,000 people, Connolly said, making it the 14th largest in North Carolina. And more people are coming, he said, citing 16,000 new residential units in the pipeline in Mooresville alone. Thousands of units are also planned in Statesville and Troutman.

“We have had a lot of growth that is not properly controlled in a sense,” the vice chair said.

In the coming years, taxpayers will have to fund construction of a high school, middle school and a couple of elementary schools “to catch up,” Connolly added. Commissioners have agreed to fund up to $120 million for the new high school, but cost estimates for the project are as high as $190 million. Voters approved $80 million for the new high school in March of 2020, but Iredell-Statesville Schools officials have not solicited construction bids.

The county’s current tax rate is insufficient to fund all of those projects, Connolly stressed.

The vice chair made it clear that he was advocating for managing residential development only.

“We’ve got to slow the growth. We’ve got to control the growth. We’ve got to manage this growth,” he said. “Industry, commercial, business — come in here and do it.”

Commissioner Gene Houpe, who recently attended the N.C. Association of County Commissioners meeting, chimed in that state law does not allow counties and municipalities to charge development or impact fees to help cover the cost of new school construction.

He doesn’t expect that to change.

“That’s the strongest lobby … in Raleigh,” Houpe said. “That’s why we don’t have that.”


Also during the September 5 meeting, the board:

♦ Approved a proclamation declaring September 2023 as Library Card Sign-Up Month. Commissioners expressed their appreciation for all of the services and programming offered by the library staff.

♦ Continued until November 21 a public hearing related to a request by Phillip Rotella, owner of Lake Vision Development, Inc., to rezone approximately 1.6 acres along Brawley School Road in order to initiate compliance of an existing code violation. Planning board recommended denial of the request. Commissioners asked the applicant to work with the planning department to address existing code issues and possibly resubmit a new conditional rezoning application.

♦ Expressed their appreciation for the Iredell County Cooperative Extension staff for their work planning and setting up the county fair.

♦ Sang “Happy Birthday” to Chair Melissa Neader.

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